one person's trash...

last fall we stopped using paper towels as part of the Ditch the Disposables challenge. before that, i'd taken for granted that paper towels were just what you used and never considered doing without, but it turned out it wasn't a big deal at all. we just use kitchen towels, wash cloths, and rags for cleaning up and wiping hands. making the switch to cloth napkins was similarly easy. it seemed silly to save them for some kind of special occasion. honestly, wiping baby faces is so much easier with cloth that i often travel with a cloth napkin in my diaper bag. they also tie on easily as a bib.

what's funny, is that dylan LOVES having a cloth napkin to wipe her face and hands on. hopefully, we're not raising a little OCD baby;)

we still have a paper towel roll in the pantry from last september that we'll pull out for bacon grease or pet messes, but otherwise, we use cloth. i don't miss spending money on paper, i like throwing less away, and it hasn't really generated much more laundry. overall, it's been an easy switch.

i wanted to try something else this year. we don't really have a lot of "disposable-ness" in our lives, (although buying food on-the-go can be a weakness...) what i realized, though, is that we still generate a lot of waste from buying packaged snacks. we recycle the cardboard boxes, but that still consumes a great deal of energy, and wrappers mostly go in the trash. reducing consumption/waste and reusing/repurposing stuff is certainly better from an energy standpoint than recycling, (which is also why we've been saving and reusing glass containers.)

this year, for the challenge (sept-oct), i decided to not buy snacks like crackers and granola bars. my goal is to to try baking my own, but honestly, that hasn't happened yet. we had a bunch in the pantry when september started, and life has been busy, but in the next few weeks i plan to bake granola bars, crackers, and graham crackers. if you have a tried and true recipe for any of those items, i'd love to hear it. i figure this is a good way not only to cut down on our household waste but also to save money and eat more healthfully.

in the spirit of paring down (and i suppose "nesting"), we tagged along with camp's garage sale this past weeked. it was exhausting since we had it open friday and saturday, but it was worth it. we got rid of lots of lots of stuff and made a decent amount of money. one of the best parts was that we had a free table where i put out weird stuff i didn't want: toiletries, cleaning supplies, little happy meal-type toys, half-burned candles, and all sorts of randomness i wanted out of my house but didn't want to throw away or even give to the thrift store. people LOVED the free table, and stuff moved. it was awesome.


Jenney said...

I have been wanting to switch to cloth napkins for about a year, but they are SO expensive to buy...any ideas?

suzannah | the smitten word said...

i actually just got some on clearance today: at target, 4 for $2.28, and at marshalls, 4 w/ 4 placemats for $7. i've gotten good deals at tj maxx and even an expensive boutique. often the ones on clearance are the "wrong" season, but that doesn't bother me.

i've heard that thrift stores are also a great place for linens and cloth, but i haven't had much luck there yet.

i suppose with a sewing machine, they'd be pretty easy (and cheap) to whip up with scrap or clearance fabric, but i'm not that crafty:) maybe someday...

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

I made some homemade granola bars a couple of weeks ago. I loved them, but the girls didn't for some reason.


Today I saw this recipe, and I'm going to try it next:


Anonymous said...

we switched to cloth napkins a year or so ago. i simply went into joann fabrics and picked out 3 fabrics i liked and then gave it to my MIL who loves to sew (haha- told you it was "simple"!!) she just sutered(?) the edges of them as she cut 12 of each. they wash up great!

suzannah, as far as homemade snacks, i have the best recipes, but it's also another life change i made. i have begun using fresh-milled wheat and make granola bars, bread, etc. from that. it's unbelievably healthy!! here's the website because i don't know if you are interested in going this far into it! :) you are at a busy stage of life after all!

beth - total mom haircut said...

Oh good, I'm glad Amy gave you those two granola bar recipes. I've tried the first one and they were really good, and am planning to try the next one some time this week. Homemade granola bars are really great to have a round the house!

And I agree, the switch to cloth napkins was so easy and everyone in the house prefers it. I bought a stack on sale once and that's just what we use now. The paper towels have been more difficult for me. I guess I go through phases with them. It would probably be a lot easier if I just put them in a cabinet like you said, so that they're not right there out in the open...Yeah, I'm think I'm gonna go do that:)

Kelly Miller said...

This is a great idea. I keep thinking we should use cloth napkins (which we already own - my mother worked in a textiles factory for years), but I'm so lazy. I usually compost paper towels that aren't horribly funky, but cloth is still a better (and cheaper) option.

I also always buy in bulk, though I've never gone as far as to make crackers. Report back!

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